Imagine you have a limp. Imagine that your leg was badly injured many years ago, and for reasons of your own, you didn’t seek treatment and so the leg healed badly and now you limp. Most days you get along fine with it…you don’t even notice that you limp and you only have pain when you walk a little more than you usually do, so you generally don’t walk much for pleasure, if at all.
One day this person comes along and you enjoy them so much you want to walk with them. You explain your limitations and they say it’s fine…we can just take it slowly. So the two of you walk together and it’s lovely. Sometimes the pace is a bit fast and it stings a bit and you ask to slow down but otherwise you walk slowly with them, limping by their side. The two of you get along so well that you talk about longer walks, in fact you talk about running with them, maybe even a marathon. You discuss ways to heal your leg and there’s part of you that wants to but there’s also a part that is really scared. You know it would involve more pain, before it healed correctly and you also worry that it might not heal at all. You’ve lived with this bad leg for so long that it’s become part of you and you have gotten comfortable with its limitations.
You feel bad that your limp affects your relationship and you feel you aren’t being fair to the other person. You just can’t do longer walks…and you feel like you are holding the other person back. You walk less and less and while the other person is understanding and patient it makes you feel worse. The worse you feel…the less you want to walk. You start thinking that maybe you are someone who just shouldn’t be walking. And one day, you finally tell the person that you can’t walk with them any more.
And you slowly limp away.